Project Description

In partnership with Sustainability Resources Ltd and the Canadian Oil Sands Innovation Alliance, in the fall of 2014 we offered courses on Environmental Monitoring for non-scientists.

Environmental Monitoring Programs are essential for assessing the effects of development on the environment and linking environmental health to policy and management. In order to be effective, a good monitoring program requires not only sound scientific rationale but the participation and endorsement of stakeholders who also have an interest in environmental quality. Multi-stakeholder groups are often tasked with setting monitoring priorities and providing input into the monitoring design. This process can be contentious, and frustrating for those without a monitoring background.

As Bill 31 established the Alberta Environmental Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting Agency, we anticipate that there will be an increase in interest in environmental monitoring throughout the province, and therefore we have the potential to build capacity for local decision makers and interested communities to participate in monitoring activities. The course is designed to improve the meaningful participation of non-scientists in multi-stakeholder groups that are contributing to monitoring decisions.

The course was designed in modules, in order to give participants the skills required to participate in a multi-stakeholder setting.

Module 1: Scientific Thinking and Reasoning – Carla Davidson

What is the scientific method, and why is it important? After instruction and discussion, participants practiced their scientific reasoning skills by critiquing scientific results from the literature.

Module 2: Philosophy of Environmental Monitoring – Kelly Munkittrick

How to build an environmental monitoring program that is sensitive, indicates where the problems are, and facilitates finding solutions.

Module 3: How to Build a Monitoring Program – Facilitated Session

Participants were randomly assigned to a stakeholder group, and, by role playing a typical multi-stakeholder monitoring committee, were brought through the process of answering a series of questions that define the monitoring priorities.

COSIA and SRL are continuing to looking for support to continue the courses in 2015.